Wed, 03 Jun 2020

Jan Olszewski, who opposed Polands communist government during the Cold War and later became prime minister, has died at age 88.

President Andrzej Duda on February 8 praised Olszewski as the leader of a free, independent, and sovereign Poland, while Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his death was an unimaginable loss for the country.

'Jan Olszewski was a person of crystal honesty and faithful to his views, and at the same time immensely courageous. He proved his steadfastness many times,' Morawiecki said. 'The republic has suffered an unimaginable loss today.'

Olszewski died late on February 7 in a Warsaw hospital following a long illness.

Olszewski was born in Warsaw and as a teenager participated in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers of the country during World War II.

As a lawyer, he defended anticommunist dissidents in political trials during the Soviet-backed communist era.

He became a leading figure in the anticommunist Solidarity movement in the 1980s and helped draft its founding charter.

Olszewski served as prime minster for six months from 1991 to 1992, making him the shortest-serving premier in Poland's postcommunist era.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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